Violence and terror in the Islamic religious war against the Jews
A review of the book by Mitchell Bard tracing religion’s rise in Muslim terrorism, as the character of the violence turns from terrorist to Jihadist.
By Manfred Gerstenfeld
8 March 2016
Published in Israel National News
The violence emerging from many parts of the Islamic world is barely matched elsewhere. It has gained an increasingly religious character, as shown in Mitchell Bard’s book, “Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War against the Jews” (New York, Palgrave Macmillan). The title of the fourth chapter of the book sums this up well: From terrorists to Jihadists.
Dr. Mitchell G. Bard is Executive Director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE). One of his main achievements is the establishment and directorship of the Jewish Virtual Library, a large encyclopedia on the web. Bard has published over twenty books. An important one among many is “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance that Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East”. In it he exposes the many heterogeneous components of this alliance, the main one of which is the Saudi lobby.
Developments in the Middle East continue to unfold rapidly. They are impossible to understand without possessing an infrastructure of knowledge about the area’s history, ideologies and conflicts. Bard’s new book makes a major contribution to this knowledge even though the book focuses on the religious war against Israel and the Jews furthered by a variety of violent streams of Islam. The book can be characterized as an overview of the background of Muslim anti-Jewish incitement and criminality, with focus on the past decades.
One might wrongly think that a book of this nature would inevitably lose much of its value as major new events unfold. However, even though these have occurred since its publication, the book remains valid because it highlights the context and structure in which these events take place.
One recent development is the deal struck between the Obama Administration, its allies and the Iranian government, as if one could trust these genocide promoting Shiite Muslim totalitarians.
Another is the rise of the Sunni Islamic State Movement, which even surpasses other Muslim religious terror movements in its cruelty. Slowly but surely more Western analysts are beginning to understand that as religious consciousness and identification among Muslims increase, the Sunni-Shiite conflict will become increasingly important. Thus many more people will die as a result.
Western multiculturalists have promoted many fallacies. One such is that all cultures are equal in value. This claim may not be easy to deconstruct by the average layperson. Yet to accept this manifestation of moral relativism is to give license to extreme Islamic violence.
Another is the belief that Islamism is something structurally different from Islam, rather than an extreme version of it.
Yet another major fallacy is that Muslim law, or “shariah”, is compatible with democracy. To the contrary, it is anti-democratic aiming at a Muslim theocracy.
Bard explains all this well. He also comes out against another frequent misunderstanding in the West – that holding elections is always a sign of democracy. In the Arab world, more often than not, the manipulation of elections negates any semblance of democratic intent.
One important topic to which Bard devotes an entire chapter is the Arab Spring. Many Westerners believed that it was the beginning of democratic change rather than a series of developments on the road to chaos and fanaticism. Two revolutions were required to stop this process in Egypt. The Arab Spring has led to many massacres since its inception. Syrian deaths outnumber all others, yet tens of thousands have also died in Iraq and Libya. Yemen is another country where large numbers of people may be facing death due to continued unrest.
Other concerns and problems have only increased since the book was published. Fears are on the rise that Saudia Arabia may be planning to acquire nuclear weapons, sooner or later and that Jordan could collapse under a possible onslaught of the Islamic State.
Bombardments, mostly by Americans, and more recently also by the Russians, have succeeded in stemming the expansion of the Islamic State and have even reduced somewhat the size of their territory. Who will replace them in the territories they hold is not clear. A territorial defeat, however, does not necessarily mean an ideological defeat.
The poorly controlled massive influx of refugees from Muslim countries into Europe increases the probability of terror attacks like the Paris killings of November 2015. One does not even have to be a ‘licensee’ of a terror group in order to become a terrorist. A culture of do-it-yourself murders and violence has sprung up among extreme Muslims. Jews and others in Toulouse, Paris, Brussels and Copenhagen have paid the price.
Bard is not kind to Obama and his international policy, his insensitivity to Israel’s positions, and many other aspects of it. He explains why Israelis do not trust Obama, devoting a chapter to the United States titled: Shattered Dreams of Peace: From Camp David’s success to Obama’s Fiasco. One might add that listening to the American President’s statements one would not realize that most of the organizations designated as terror groups by the US government are Muslim.
One issue where I disagree with Bard is when he writes that Muslim leaders have emerged who twist the words of the Prophet, ideologically motivating others to become martyrs in the service of Islam. He adds that a significant expression of this is found in the teaching that killing Jews is a way to attain Paradise.
In my view, a specific religion at any given time is predominantly what its followers make of it. There are many Muslim scholars who support violent interpretations of the Koran and sharia. The jihadists, even if a minority, have tens if not hundreds of millions of sympathizers. The theological debate on Islam should be left to Muslim scholars. For outsiders, the size of support of these violent currents legitimizes them as one contemporary expression among others of Islam.
The threats for humanity emanating from the Islamic world are huge. Israel and Jews have been significantly targeted abroad. Muslims themselves have been hurt by extremists in their own countries. Indeed the great majority of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed or wounded and the millions displaced have been harmed by their own co-religionists.
The European Union’s mishandling of the current major refugee crisis has shown that most European mainstream leaders still have not understood the dangers involved in many aspects of contemporary Islam. The influx also paves the way for more radical anti-Islamic movements in Europe.
The widespread anti-Islamic opinions in the United States have been exposed following declarations against Muslims by the Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
To summarize: this book has value both as a further addition to Bard’s long list of contributions to Jewish understanding, and as a source of knowledge which can be of benefit to many others. As matters evolve, one can go back to the book to understand the infrastructure of these changes and place them in their proper context.